Magic Johnson criticizes Lakers’ Jim Buss, says he needs help to be great owner

Dodgers minority owner and former Lakers star Magic Johnson watches pregame activities before the start of a Dodgers playoff game.

Dodgers minority owner and former Lakers star Magic Johnson watches pregame activities before the start of a Dodgers playoff game.

(Julie Jacobson / Associated Press)

You never know what Magic Johnson is going to say.

But you always know he wants the Lakers to win. Badly.

The minority owner of the Dodgers criticized one of the Lakers’ owners Tuesday, and it wasn’t the first time.

“I’m going to say it again: I love Jim Buss. He should just be the owner, like his dad was just the owner,” Johnson said. “Let’s go back with facts, so I can back this up with facts: 27 wins a couple years ago, 21 wins last year. Three summers now, we haven’t signed anybody. I am backing this up with facts. We haven’t signed any superstar. We’ve had cap space. We had cap space last summer. We’re going to have more this summer.”

Jim Buss is one of six family members who inherited a majority share of the Lakers in 2013. He is also the team’s vice president of basketball operations.


Johnson, who led the Lakers to five championships as a player, was speaking after the Dodgers’ introductory news conference for new Manager Dave Roberts.

“You’ve got to get somebody to help [Buss] out,” said Johnson, an unpaid Lakers vice president. “Just play your role. There’s nothing wrong with being a great owner.

“Just like me — I didn’t try to get involved in this [hiring] process, because I don’t know anything about the manager [Roberts]. That’s not what I know, so I stay out of the way. I want to sit down there and cheer for my Dodgers. I’m happy with that. That is what I want him to do. Just let somebody else help him to achieve his goal, which is to get the Lakers back to being great again.”

Okafor vs. Russell

The side story was swept away. This was Kobe Bryant’s last NBA game in his hometown.

Jahlil Okafor had a slightly bigger impact than D’Angelo Russell in a matchup of the third and second overall draft picks Tuesday.

Okafor started slowly, initially stymied by Roy Hibbert’s length, but scored six points in the final seven minutes of the Lakers’ 103-91 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Lakers deliberated between drafting Russell and Okafor, going for the star potential of the Ohio State point guard rather than the safe choice of the Duke center.


“I thought he had the chance to be a player that’s going to play in this league 10, 12, 13 years,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said of Okafor. “He was very talented in the post and he shocked me with the fact that he could shoot it from about 15, 16 feet in our workouts.”

The Lakers wanted to see more of Okafor before the draft but, Scott said, “We didn’t get a chance to see him go one-on-one against anybody and the guy that we did get see him go one-on-one against wasn’t really an NBA prospect.”

Okafor had 12 points on six-for-14 shooting Tuesday. Russell had 12 points on five-for-14 shooting.



When: Wednesday, 4 p.m. PST.

Where: Verizon Center.

On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.

Records: Lakers 2-15; Wizards 7-8.

Record vs. Wizards (2014-15): 0-2.

Update: The Lakers have lost five consecutive games against the Wizards, their last victory coming in 2012. Despite a young, promising backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards weren’t off to a great start. But they won at Cleveland on Tuesday, 97-85, as Wall had 35 points and 10 assists. Cleveland had been 9-0 at home this season.


Bresnahan reported from Philadelphia, Shaikin from Los Angeles.


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